Today I was at the Walgreens, browsing through the magazine rack. There was an issue of Rolling Stone magazine on display. The cover featured two women, wearing nothing but strategically placed ammo belts filled with large bullets. It was similar to the titillating cover designs one often sees on the cover of "men's magazines" such as FHM and Maxim.
It may surprise those who know that I am a strongly committed Christian to know that I've been periodically checking out the articles in Rolling Stone ever since I've been in high school, back in the 70's. So I think it's important to explain something.
I was never a fan of Rolling Stone magazine. From the very start, it was clear to me that the folks at the magazine despised everything I stood for as a Christian.
In the old days, Rolling Stone was the most visible and successful hippie publication, for people who worshipped at the shrine of rock 'n roll, so-called "free" love (also known as fornication and adultery), and plentiful use of illegal drugs.
Over the years, Rolling Stone magazine seems to have changed, but only slightly. On the rare occasions when I pick up an issue to browse through its pages, I've noticed that ads pertaining to marijuana-related products (such as T-shirts) seem to be less common than they used to be. But the publication's defiant rejection of biblical morality is pretty much the same as it always was. Which means, of course, that anyone who thinks there's anything new or radical or cutting edge about the magazine is ignorant of its long history.
Some Christians think that a Christian should never, ever open the covers of such a magazine and look inside. I think I understand why they feel that way. They're afraid that if they do so, they'll be tempted and tainted. They may even fear that exposing themselves to ungodly ideas will cause them to fall away from God and lose their salvation.
Personally, I have never believed that the proper response to godlessness in our culture is to fear it. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear.
Admittedly, I haven't yet conquered fear in every area of my life. (Perhaps it's because my experience of perfect love has been less than perfect.) However, if I'm going to be afraid of something, it's going to be something more substantial than an opposing point of view.
As a Christian, I know what I believe, and I am confident in my own salvation. I have taken a stand against godless behavior on many occasions. Therefore, it does not jeopardize my own faith for me to read an article which promotes ideas I find abhorrent. On the contrary, it only serves to make me more and more aware of just how corrupt our culture has become. It makes me aware of how much we Christians need to improve our strategies if we hope to reach the lost.
It also makes me aware of just how much anti-Christian bigotry our kids are exposed to these days.
For example, in this month's issue, there's an article by Jeff Sharlet, pertaining to a youth ministry called BattleCry. To read the article one would think that Ron Luce, the leader of the ministry, was the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. So I visited the group's web site, when I got home, to see how that site compared with what I read about the group in Sharlet's article. And here's what I read:
The world today is in a battle for its identity. Evil forces are creating a sick culture of hate. But they will not succeed. In order for His Word to prevail, we must make our own culture of hope and love stronger.
"Hope and love". Yeah, I can see why Sharlet finds that to be scary.
Rolling Stone has never been a serious journalistic publication. It's a publication for people who think that marijuana and LSD are doorways to wisdom and enlightenment. It's a publication for people who think that the "Girls Gone Wild" videos which celebrated inebriated debauchery ought to have received the Academy Award. It's a publication for people who think that an idiot like Iggy Pop deserves the amount of ink they dedicated to him in this issue. It's a publication for people who think we have a constitutional right to participate in wild sexual orgies, and to abort any children conceived during the course of those orgies. Is it any surprise that the writers for Rolling Stone are frightened by people who oppose their godless value system? Not to me, it isn't. When subscriptions are at stake, the rhetoric gets nasty, and people get sloppy with the facts.
Speaking of being sloppy with the facts, I thought it was particularly funny when Sharlet's article characterized the late Keith Green as a "country musician".
Country? Are we talking about the same Keith Green who wrote and recorded tunes such as "You Put This Love In My Heart"? I'd never claim that Keith's music was heavy metal, but it certainly wasn't country music, either. Pop or rock music, yes. Not country. Elvis Presley is "the King of rock 'n roll," and even Elvis sang more country music than Keith Green ever did.
Now, I freely admit that I never even heard of BattleCry before today. So for all I know, there may be some aspects of that ministry which deserve to be criticized.
Still, I kind of have to wonder. If a so-called journalist for a music magazine can't tell the difference between country music and the Christian pop music of Keith Green, how likely is it that he's able to tell the difference between a neo-fascist youth group and an organization that simply seeks to encourage young people to take a stand against immorality?